How much salt do I put in a salt water flush?

A salt water flush, also known as a salt water cleanse, is a method of cleansing the colon by drinking a saline solution. It is primarily used to quickly remove waste and toxins from the gastrointestinal tract before a medical procedure like a colonoscopy. Some people also use salt water flushes as a detox method to try to improve health and digestion. This article will provide a complete guide on how to perform a salt water flush, including how much salt you should use.

What is a Salt Water Flush?

A salt water flush involves drinking a solution of warm water mixed with non-iodized salt. The salt water solution works as an osmotic agent, drawing water into the colon from surrounding body tissues. This extra water stimulates bowel movements to flush out the colon.

The flush is meant to completely clean out the colon by inducing diarrhea. The frequent bowel movements continue until all stool is emptied from the colon and clear fluid is excreted. This usually takes 1-2 hours. Once the colon is cleansed, bloating and discomfort can improve.

Benefits of a Salt Water Flush

Some potential benefits of doing a salt water flush include:

  • Cleansing the colon before a medical procedure – Salt water flushes are commonly used to prepare the bowel for colonoscopies or other lower GI procedures. The flush cleans out all stool to allow for better visibility of the colon walls.
  • Relieving occasional constipation – The flush can help stimulate bowel movements to relieve bloating and discomfort from constipation. It may be used as part of a detox regimen.
  • Removing toxins – The flush may help remove potentially harmful waste, bacteria, and toxins from the GI tract.
  • Improving digestion and regularity – Some alternative health practitioners claim that routinely flushing the colon can support regular bowel function and digestion.

How a Salt Water Flush Works

Here is a quick overview of what happens during a salt water flush:

  1. A salt water solution is consumed on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
  2. The salt draws extra fluid into the intestinal tract via osmosis.
  3. The increased fluid volume stimulates the intestines to contract.
  4. The contractions trigger frequent bowel movements to empty the colon.
  5. After 1-2 hours of diarrhea, the flush is complete.

The key is drinking the saline solution on an empty stomach. This allows the salt to work its way through the entire colon to fully cleanse it out.

How Much Salt for a Salt Water Flush?

The standard amount of salt used for a salt water flush is 2 teaspoons (10ml) of non-iodized salt dissolved into 1 liter of lukewarm water. Make sure to use regular table salt, rather than coarse rock or sea salt which may be harder to dissolve.

Here is the typical salt water flush recipe:

  • 1 liter (32oz) lukewarm filtered water (do not use tap water)
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) non-iodized salt like table salt or pickling salt

Mix the ingredients together until all the salt dissolves to make your saline solution. The total dosage ends up being about 1 tablespoon of salt.

Salt Water Ratios

Some people modify the ratio of salt and water in the flush. However, taking too much salt can be dangerous. Here are some common ratios:

Salt Water
2 tsp (10ml) 1 liter (32oz)
1 tbsp (15ml) 2 liters (64oz)
2 tbsp (30ml) 4 liters (128oz)

Most experts recommend sticking with 1 tablespoon of salt maximum diluted into 1-4 liters of water. Using more salt than this can raise the saline solution to unsafe hypertonic levels.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Follow these steps to complete an effective salt water flush:

  1. Prepare the salt water mixture. Add 2 tsp salt to 1 liter lukewarm water. Stir to dissolve. Filter the water if needed.
  2. Drink on an empty stomach. Wake up first thing and drink the solution before eating anything. This allows it to work through the full colon.
  3. Stay near a bathroom. The flush will cause frequent bowel movements. Stay home near a toilet until the flush is done.
  4. Wait for the flush to complete. Bowel movements will become more liquidy. Keep going until passing clear liquid to be sure the colon is empty.
  5. Eat lightly after. Gradually ease back into eating starting with lighter foods like broth or juice.

Expect the flush to take 1-2 hours from start to finish. The number of bowel movements varies, but 5-15 times is common.

What to Expect

Here is a timeline of what you can expect during and after a salt water flush:

During the Flush

  • 0-30 minutes – First bowel movement shortly after drinking the solution.
  • 30-60 minutes – Multiple bowel movements every 10-15 minutes.
  • 60-90 minutes – Bowel movements become more liquidy and frequent.
  • 90+ minutes – Bowel movements of clear liquid mean the flush is complete.

After the Flush

  • 0-2 hours – Gradually consume light foods and hydrate with water.
  • 2-24 hours – Frequency of bowel movements decreases and stool returns to normal.
  • 1-3 days – May feel lightheaded or fatigued. Drink electrolyte beverages.
  • 3+ days – Bowel function normalizes.

Safety and Side Effects

When done properly, a salt water flush is generally safe for most healthy adults. However, there are some possible side effects to be aware of:

  • Dehydration – Drinking so much fluid can deplete electrolytes. Drink electrolyte beverages after.
  • Dizziness – Rapid fluid loss may cause lightheadedness or dizziness.
  • Nausea – Some people experience nausea or vomiting from the taste or quick fluid intake.
  • Cramping – Abdominal cramping can occur from the bowel contractions.
  • Bloating – Temporary bloating is common and resolves after the flush.
  • Fatigue – You may feel tired or weak for 24-48 hours after the flush.

While uncommon, improper use does pose some health risks like electrolyte imbalances. It’s important to follow instructions and not overdo the salt dosage. Those with kidney disease, heart failure, or hypertension should avoid salt water flushes.

How Often Can It Be Done?

Most experts recommend doing a salt water flush no more than 1-2 times per month. Doing it too frequently can disrupt normal bowel function and electrolyte balances. Here are general guidelines on frequency:

  • For constipation relief – Limit to 1 time per month maximum.
  • For a detox cleanse – 1-2 times monthly, separated by at least a week.
  • For a colonoscopy prep – As instructed by your doctor, usually only once.

Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and gradually ease back into eating after completing a flush. Wait at least 2-3 days before attempting another one.

People with gastrointestinal problems should only do a flush under medical supervision. An alternative is trying a magnesium supplement which can also help relieve occasional constipation.

Alternatives to Salt Water Flushes

While salt water flushes can be effective for cleansing the colon, they may not be right for everyone. Some alternatives include:

  • Enemas – Use water or other solutions to flush the lower colon.
  • Laxatives – Stimulant, osmotic, bulk forming, and other types of laxatives.
  • Magnesium supplements – Magnesium helps draw water into the colon.
  • High fiber diet – Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber.
  • Probiotics – Take probiotic supplements to support digestive health.
  • Exercise – Physical activity can help maintain regularity.

For occasional constipation, gentle remedies like magnesium, fiber, or probiotics are often recommended over more aggressive approaches like salt water flushes. Talk to your doctor before attempting cleansing methods.


While generally safe for most, salt water flushes do come with some precautions:

  • Do not make the salt solution too concentrated.
  • Only use non-iodized salt like plain table salt.
  • Stay near a bathroom until the flush is finished.
  • Do not do a flush if you have kidney disease, heart issues, or hypertension.
  • Consult your physician if you have chronic constipation or digestion issues.
  • Always drink plenty of fluids and replenish electrolytes after.
  • Don’t do flushes too frequently, limit to 1-2 times per month maximum.

If you experience concerning symptoms like chest pain, muscle weakness, or fainting, seek medical attention immediately.


When used properly, a salt water flush can be an effective way to cleanse the colon and treat occasional constipation. Simply dissolve 2 teaspoons of regular table salt into 1 liter of lukewarm water. First thing in the morning, drink the entire solution on an empty stomach and stay near a bathroom for the next 1-2 hours.

Bowel movements will increase and become more liquidy as the salt water solution flushes out the colon. Drink plenty of fluids like electrolyte beverages after finishing to replenish hydration and electrolyte levels. Be sure not to overuse salt water flushes and limit them to no more than once or twice per month. Those with medical conditions should exercise caution and consult their doctor before attempting a flush.

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